Kitchener dad receives apology after arrest and strip search
Waterloo Regional Police Services Chief Matt Torigian issued a full public apology to the arrest, strip search and detention of Kitchener resident, Jessie Sansone.
"We are in a position to apologize publically to Mr. Sansone not only for the thorough search, but more importantly the difficulties this has caused he and his family in the aftermath," Torigian said at a press conference held Monday afternoon.
Sansone was taken into custody on February 22, 2012 outside his 4-year-old daughter's school after she drew a sketch of a gun in their home. She told her teacher that her dad, Jessie, used it to kill monsters and bad guys. The gun turned out to be a toy.
On Monday, Waterloo Regional Police released the results of an internal review following Sanson's arrest. WRPS say the review was conducted in the interest of transparency and accountability to the community; to evaluate the sequence of events; and to review the actions taken by members of the Service.
The investigative review included an examination of the evidence, an assessment of the timeline, interviews with members of the involved community agencies as well as 14 members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
Jessie Sansone has previously been convicted of assault and is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Those facts, and not just the drawing of the gun, led them to arrest Sansone. When asked if that was the right course of action to arrest Sansone, Chief Torigian said it was.
"The results of this review have determined that Waterloo Regional Police officers acted in accordance with the law by arresting Mr. Sansone and made every effort to preserve his dignity and the safety of this community,"
Chief Torigian and Deputy Chief Thomlison met with Sansone prior to Monday's press conference to personally apologize.
Sansone has accepted the police's apology but is still upset over what happened and the effect it's had on his kids. To this date, he has yet to see his daughter's drawing.
"No one has seen this drawing of the gun. Apparently it was erased off an erasable board," says Sansone.
He is still considering legal action against the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
As a result of the incident Sansone has moved his four children to a new school. Sansone is looking to move on but doesn't deny his past saying, "I did get in trouble with the law, it's been over 5 years, and I've paid for my mistakes.
As part of the review, WRPS are making 8 recommendations to avoid a similar incident from happening. Among them is better record keeping when a prisoner is transferred between officers, the potential use of technology – like airport scanners – to do instrusive searches and the requirement that a supervisor sign off on any "thorough search", or strip searches, before is happens.
All of the recommendations brought forward are listed in the full report, which can be found at http://www.wrps.on.ca/inside-wrps/publications/sansone-report